3rd Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday, Year I

In today’s Gospel Our Lord teaches us that we’re meant to shine. He begins by describing the absurdity of covering up a lamp, which goes contrary to its purpose. The higher a source of light, and the better it is positioned, the more it shines and fulfills its purpose. For a Christians to shine like we must not only try for the moral high ground, but also strive for holiness, a holiness that spurs us to give witness to the source of our light: Christ.

A light also draws attention, so if someone tries to cover a light it can be because they are trying not to avoid attention. Our Lord speaks about how we measure out our Christian living: if we give it all, he’ll constantly renew us, but if we shutter up the light he’s given us, only letting it peek out of a few cracks, eventually the light will be gone altogether. He is our light and his light never wanes.

Our faith, especially our awareness of how much Our Lord loves us, can be a blazing light in our lives and in the lives of others. Let’s share it as the greatest treasure we own.

Readings: Hebrews 10:19–25; Psalm 24:1–6; Mark 4:21–25.

3rd Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, Year I

In today’s First Reading the Letter to the Hebrews teaches us that a shadow of food would not satisfy us, nor a shadow of money pay our debts. The real “currency” we have to atone for our sins is the currency provided to us by Our Lord. Even if we had real food or real money they’d pale in comparison with what the Lord expects of us: to do his will. Doing his will can imply sacrifice, but, as Our Lord teaches us, doing his will when it is costly pleases him even more.

Mankind since the Fall has known some sort of reparation was needed, and that something was missing in its relationship with God. Religious expression followed suit, offering things that would satisfy God, yet Christ reveals to us that it is not just what we offer, but with what heart we offer it. In himself he offered the best of both worlds: a perfect offering (himself) offered perfectly (out of love for the Father and for us), which is why his sacrifice was accepted and continue to be a source of blessings for us. Thanks to Our Lord we now know what to offer (him) and how to offer it (out of love for God and for others).

If we’re faced with sacrifice today, try making it a little more “real”: strive to embrace it for love of God and for others, in imitation of Our Lord.

Readings: Hebrews 10:1–10; Psalm 40:2, 4ab, 7–8a, 10–11; Mark 3:31–35. See also 16th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday.


3rd Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, Year I

In today’s First Reading the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us that Our Lord has not paid the price of redemption in installments; he has paid in full. In the past, sacrifices were made over and over to make some small reparation for past faults and to please the Lord. Our Lord offered himself once and for all, a perfect sacrifice that satisfied the debt of justice owed to the Heavenly Father completely on our behalf. The merits of Our Lord’s self-gift are limitless, if we turn to him and let him settle our debt.

Today in Christian worship we add our sacrifices in every celebration of the Eucharist to the one sacrifice, the sacrifice Our Lord made once and for all, the sacrifice that we offer to the Father over and over again in the Eucharist throughout history. Our Lord takes our sacrifices and presents them to the Father as well.

Let’s thank Our Lord today for having paid our debts in full.

Readings: Hebrews 9:15, 24–28; Psalm 98:1–6; Mark 3:22–30. See also 27th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday.

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Today’s readings teach us that Our Lord has come to bring us light, liberty, and unity.

In today’s First Reading Isaiah speaks of the moment when Israel will be delivered from the prolonged darkness and oppression it has suffered as a result of its infidelity to God. The darkness of Israel was giving way to a great light, symbolizing the passage from sorrow and oppression to freedom and joy. That moment is described as being like the joy of the harvest: a harvest is the end of a great deal of work, patience, and anxiety. You never know how the weather will fare, whether locusts are on the horizon, and so on. You work hard, but in the end you need the Lord to bring the harvest to completion. Isaiah also makes it clear that the great light is also a liberation from oppression and slavery, evoking indirectly the joy the Israelites felt when they were led out of Egypt by Moses at the Lord’s command. In describing Midian Isaiah is referring to the story of Gideon in the Book of Judges (see Judges 8-9). Gideon defeated the Midianites with a small, select force, and credited the Lord with the victory. Isaiah uses this story to show that it is the Lord who’ll deliver Israel from oppression, not their own strength or prowess.

In today’s Second Reading Paul shows that the Lord does not just liberate us. He also wants us united around him and working with him. Paul is chiding the Corinthians because they are claiming some special provenance based on whoever baptized them or whoever was the most eloquent preacher. Their evangelizers want them united in mind and purpose around Christ and his Gospel as Christians. They were baptized in Christ, not in Paul, Cephas, or Apollos. In doing that they are giving credit where credit is due: Paul rightly reminds them that it was Christ who was crucified for their sins, not him. If they don’t give credit where credit is due, people will not be led to Christ.

In today’s Gospel Our Lord is revealed by Matthew to be that light of liberation and joy spoken of by Isaiah. The fulfillment of a prophecy is not always textbook; it doesn’t happen to the letter. Everything Our Lord said, did, and lived during his earthly mission has something to say, and, in this case, settling in Capernaum shows that light of liberation arriving to a people with a pagan past, an allusion to the darkness and oppression caused by their past infidelities. Our Lord also calls his first disciples today. His light draws others to him not only so that they can see the way, but so that they can someday light the way to Christ as well.

Let’s ask Our Lord today to help us light the path to him so that others may follow him.

Readings: Isaiah 8:23–9:3; Psalm 27:1, 4, 13–14; 1 Corinthians 1:10–13, 17; Matthew 4:12–23.

2nd Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday, Year I

In Jewish worship, even before the construction of the Temple, sacrifices were prescribed in which the shedding and sprinkling of blood was performed for the expiation of sin. Once a year the Day of Atonement was celebrated, when the high priest would bring the blood from a sacrifice into the innermost part of the Temple, the Holy of Holies, where at one point the Ark of the Covenant was kept. The Holy of Holies was only entered once a year. The Letter to the Hebrews today reminds us that both this arrangement and blood being shed and sprinkled for sin were a foreshadowing of the true Holy of Holies (Heaven), and the blood of Christ, shed for us and now received whenever we receive the Eucharist in Holy Communion. Our Lord performed this atonement by bringing his own blood and the sacrifice of himself into Heaven to present them to God the Father for our sins; one day, by the grace of God, we will make that one definitive entry into the true Holy of Holies to joyfully worship the Lord forever.

In today’s Gospel Our Lord’s relatives are convinced that he’s gone crazy, surrounded by crowds of people that leave him no time even to eat and maintaining an insane work rhythm. Our Lord was prepared to lay down his life for others, so the accelerated pace of his earthly ministry in retrospect shouldn’t come as a surprise: it was only a prelude to the sacrifice of his life that he’d make for all of humanity. Our high priest is now in Heaven, where he’s taken the sacrifice and blood that wipes away all our sins and, as today’s First Reading reminds us , “cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.” Thanks to him we can worship God again and worship him with the right dispositions.

In every celebration of the Eucharist let’s unite our hearts to Our Lord through his bishop or priest so that we too can worthily worship our Father in Heaven.

Readings: Hebrews 9:2–3, 11–14; Psalm 47:2–3, 6–9; Mark 3:20–21.